CANARIE Selects, Funds CanDIG Project to make Canadian Clinical Research Data FAIRer

CANARIE Selects and Funds CanDIG Project to make Research Clinical Data FAIRer

As health research data grows in volume and complexity, data management and authorized reuse grows more important for science. CanDIG’s secure federated platform will make access to rich consented clinical research data more FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) to authorized researchers.

Toronto, 15 Sept 2020

With advances in imaging technologies, new wearable health devices, mobile devices allowing patients to provide survey responses everywhere, and increasingly integrated electronic health records, health data consented for advancing biomedical research has never been more plentiful – or complex. But collecting and collating such diverse data types, and then making them available as part of national research projects to authorized researchers remains challenging.

“At institutions like UHN, we’re building increasingly sophisticated data lakes containing health data from many different sources. The next step is to help researchers turn that data into new knowledge by making it findable, available and usable in a uniform, curated, secure way,” said Dr. Mike Brudno, PI of the Canadian Distributed Infrastructure for Genomics (CanDIG) and Chief Data Scientist at the University Health Network. “The smartest researchers and the most powerful machine learning techniques can’t do anything with data they can’t find, access, or use”.

Architecture of the ClinDIG project

Today CANARIE announced additional funding for four National Data Services for health to ensure investments in data collection have greater impact by making their data more Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR). One successful project, ClinDIG, supports teams across the country to continue the development of a federated national research health genomics data platform, CanDIG, with sites in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. Professor Guillaume Bourque, Director of the Canadian Center for Computational Genomics (C3G), is a co-PI of CanDIG and leads the effort in Montreal.

“The growth of health data volumes is exciting, but those volumes mean that copying everything into one central place is less and less feasible - especially in Canada where each province has its own health privacy requirements,” said Bourque. “CanDIG’s federated foundations, letting local sites maintain control of the data entrusted into their care while supporting cross-Canada projects, make it a great choice for supporting a wider range of general health research data.” The ClinDIG project builds on CanDIG’s experience supporting access to national whole-genome datasets such as the Terry Fox Research Institute-funded TF4CN project as well as working with other cancer research efforts.

“Access to whole genome data has been vital to understanding the spectrum of mutations that accrue in cancer,” said Steve Jones, Head of Bioinformatics and Co-Director, Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre, and Co-PI of CanDIG, leading the effort in Vancouver. “But understanding the consequences of genomic variation additionally requires the deep level of clinical detail that the ClinDIG effort will help us provide.”


For more information, contact: Jonathan Dursi, Staff Scientist, UHN and Technical Lead, CanDIG; [email protected]

About CanDIG:

CanDIG connects Canadian research health genomics data. The CanDIG community maintains and grows a health genomics platform for national-scale, federated analyses over locally controlled private data sets. It is funded by the CFI Cyberinfrastructure program and connects sites at McGill University, Hospital for Sick Children, UHN Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre, Jewish General Hospital and Université de Sherbrooke. It is also a collaboration with Genome Canada, CIHR, Compute Canada and CANARIE.